From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States Can Change the World

From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States Can Change the World

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From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States Can Change the World 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Willp More than 1 year ago
Duncan Green, who works for Oxfam International, recommends cooperation, active citizenship and organisation. He writes that the key to development is an active, national developmental state - "there are no shortcuts, and neither aid nor NGOs can take its place; the road to development lies through the state." Only the state can provide free access to primary health care, education, clean water and sanitation, the free public services that emancipate women. Countries need 'massive and long-term investment in public health services'. But the IMF still forces privatisation and liberalisation on countries wanting loans. Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Reduction Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, developing countries must implement Structural Adjustment Programmes for decades, to get the debt cancellation promised as the swift solution to their urgent problems. Africa has 24% of the world's disease burden, but only 3% of the world's health workers, too many of whom migrate to the West. Poorer countries give the West $500 million a year in health workers. Jamaica and Grenada train five doctors for every one that stays. Yet Green writes, "Increasing the quantity and quality of migration is one of the most effective ways to tackle global poverty and inequality." But increasing the supply of labour cuts its price - which increases poverty. He reminds us that profits taken from developing countries rose from $17 billion in 1990 to $169 billion in 2005. The banks profit from every debt crisis, while the crises have cost the developing countries a quarter of their output in the last 25 years. As NatWest boasts, "Currency and interest rate volatility provided significant trading opportunities." Green then says that powerful states and corporations must stop doing harm. Indeed, that would be nice. He admits, "the private sector on its own has never achieved growth with equity", but he says this is because we haven't understood markets properly. He notes that reform proposals are always blocked by 'powerful governments and financial interests', that "Powerful interests profit from the lack of regulation . global institutions are weak or are dominated by governments in thrall to those vested interests" and that 'local elites' violently oppose land reform. Then he writes, absurdly, "Sustainable growth means . acknowledging that the private sector and trade . are the ultimate drivers of the economy, and it means supporting them with policies, investment, and institutions." That will make them change their spots! He admits the flaws in development thinking, chiefly 'excessive reformism without politics or history' - which this book exemplifies. Green observes, "the misguided actions of global institutions and the short-sighted policies of wealthy countries often pose threats to development." But is the problem really a lack of knowledge and of vision, to be put right by Oxfam's wisdom? This is the academics' fallacy, that if only our rulers knew better, they would do better. Does Oxfam really think anyone can persuade the world's capitalist classes to act against their own interests? We need the world's working classes to act in their own interests, to get rid of this failed, destructive system.